“You may be the hope someone finds today.” There’s a marquee sign outside a church in my city on a main road through town and this was the quote I happened to read on the way to my church last Sunday. What was especially poignant about this particular quote was what I noticed right beneath the sign that day. You see, there was a man standing next to the brick ledge, with a backpack and a cup of coffee, who appeared to be homeless. I thought to myself, “well that’s a pretty obvious word picture. Thanks for that, God.” I was, after all, on my way to church … isn’t there a parable about that somewhere in the New Testament?
Here’s the thing about the “hope” word: it’s one we often use in various contexts and it can be used as both a verb and a noun, and in different descriptive forms as an adjective and adverb. It can also sometimes be mistakenly intertwined with the term “wishful thinking.” We have hope, we want to hope, we share hope, we are hopeful, etc. But do we ever think of ourselves as being someone’s hope? As followers of Christ who are His ambassadors on this earth, I like to think of this idea as being a connector – a bridge – to THE Hope.
The other poignant and timely aspect of seeing this quote in this context is that I had been in conversations that very week about our theme verse for the year for our Arkansas Baptist Women. Guess what the verse is?
“Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you about the HOPE you have.” 1 Peter 3:15. (NIV).
Here’s the question for us as Christ followers as it pertains to this verse: do others see us living lives that exemplify hope? Do they observe our actions and words as being evidence of a steadfast, strong faith and trust in God’s Word and His power in our lives? If not, why not? If so, are we moving past the surface talk and having hope-filled conversations? Are we asking each other about the hope we have? Are we interested in and concerned about the spiritual depth of our own lives and of those around us? Are we pointing people to the source of Hope?
I don’t know about you but I’m weary of staying at the surface level of spiritual topics. One of the most rewarding conversations I had over the past year was when our Bunko group of ladies shared how we met and married our husbands. (We stopped playing Bunko a few years ago and now have mostly become a multi-gen community group.) During the course of sharing these stories, I discovered how two women in our group had not only met their betrothed but they also had “later in life” salvation stories that illustrated God’s sovereign hand in their journeys. These women had each been invited to a Bible Study Fellowship group early in their marriages and came to know Christ as a result. They each have a deep love of scripture and rich foundations of faith. What struck me was that we had all been attending the same church for at least 20-25 years yet we had never heard each other’s salvation stories. What can we do to start more conversations like these?
As I mentioned earlier, our theme this year for Arkansas Baptist Women is understanding how to share our stories of hope, of salvation, of transformation. The world is looking for people who live from a posture of hope. We need to be people of hope. Let’s encourage one another to have conversations of hope. So that the world may know the only Hope – His name is Jesus.